My article 'A Word of Warning' was posted on my Help the Podencos Facebook page, as well as here on Podenco Post. It provoked a lot of discussion and experienced podenco owners and rehoming associations shared their considerable knowledge of the breed. Here is a precis of the most important comments.
Beverley has owned and trained podencos for 9 years in Spain. 'I compete in obedience and agility with them. They are are extremely intelligent and lively dogs who require plenty of exercise and stimulation. Most Podencos out in the country side if they see rabbits are off like a shot so you must be prepared to put lots of time and training with them for recall. They are very loving and gentle with people and good with other dogs but at the end of the day they are working hunting dogs.
Not all Podencos are like that, some are laid backand not interested in hunting or running off.
Tania - we have had podencos jump 7ft walls. People need to be aware that some can jump high. Not only that, when they come over form Spain, depending on the nature of the dog ie: if timid could easily bolt and be scared by something, a secure garden is a must and even then the dogs needs to be carefully supervised! We had a dog go missing for a week who did exactly this.
People need to be asking themselves the question, if they adopt a dog direct form a rescue in Spain, without going through a recognised and established rescue and rehoming association, what happens if the homing does not work out? They could end up putting these dogs in more danger than where they came from. I already know of one podenco who is being passed around from pillar to post because of exactly this reason. Imagine if they got in the wrong hands, and get put back into a life of hunting?
Valerie - Another huge concern that I have is lack of blood testing. We all know how fussy DEFRA are. If there is a massive influx of dogs carrying Mediterranean diseases because they haven't been blood tested in Spain, we could all be faced with the whole issue of bringing dogs in to the UK tightened up or even stopped.
Sam wrote: "To think about rehoming a podenco in a location without a secure and high fence is incredibly naive and putting the dog at risk. Hunting dogs are working dogs and have specific needs and requirements, as every domestic pet has; be it greyhound, staffy or pug. Admirable intentions are wonderful but without awareness create problems for informed individuals to solve."
Val wrote: Most Sighthound rescues (let alone specific podenco ones) insist on a minimum of a 6ft fence. Podencos can be great escape artists and are able to leap incredible heights as well as even climb! Many podencos arrive in the UK very nervous and wary of their surroundings (as is their nature, some worse than others) and a secure garden is an absolute must.
Another reason for this is that many podencos are unable to go off lead in open spaces. At least if they have a secure garden they can "mooch" around at will without any worries. I absolutely will not move on this rule and if people want a dog enough for the right reasons, they will work it out. I have many adoptees on my list that have modified or even entirely replaced their fencing."
Denise wrote: "People should leave well alone and adopt through a bona fide rescue that offers rescue back up and advice if things go wrong. Dogs could also end up in the hands of baiters and dog fighting rings if being offered for free, not to mention the potential of spreading disease."
Tania wrote: "Sadly over the past 7 months since the new DEFRA law changed, myself and many other rescues have had to pick up the pieces of homings that have gone very wrong. Dogs that have come over from Spain either from a perrera, foster homes or direct from rescues in Spain. We have been left to pick up the pieces and of-course at the end of the day the dog is the one that suffers, getting moved from pillar to post. Their just the lucky ones that come to us; think of all the ones that don't?
As Denise says they could very easily fall into the wrong hands and end up as hunters' dogs, the very life we all try so hard to save them from. I know one podenco who is being moved from home to home - this poor dog, and we have no way of getting him as the homing was done through someone on Facebook, no rescue back-up, as they are in Spain, no re-homing agreement.
I really believe there is no point in bringing these dogs over to then place them in even more danger. Many rescues in Spain really need to be aware and very careful when re-homing dogs to the UK and the rest of Europe and ensure they work alongside a reputable organisation in that country
Ylande wrote: "I know everyone cheered when the law was relaxed in January, pleased that dogs could be rehomed more quickly and with less expense to the rescue. Sad to say there seems to be a sting in the tail. That is why it is so important to do the correct checks. Blood tests are vital! If a dog comes in with, say, leishmania and an inexperienced owner doesn't know what to look for, the dog could become ill, owner doesn't want the hassle & expense & passes the dog on....but to who? It will become a UK rescue's problem and god knows, those are full of the last lot of must haves.
Likewise with temperament. How many dogs in this country are passed on because they have been a bit naughty, chewed something, got too big, myriad reasons to get shut of them. That is why proper checks are needed.
The established rescues might not get it right all the time, but they have a lot better chance than someone who sits at home, having been turned down for a rescue dog, and finds another way & then helps their friends. All good intentions, I'm sure, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions and that's not what any of us want for dogs that have been through enough already.
Victoria wrote - I've adopted and fostered sighthounds (though not from Spain) and I don't have a six foot fence, so my experience is that a rehoming should be done on a dog by dog basis if the adopter is dog savvy - but rescue backup and medical checks are essential, and really so is neutering."
Elianne wrote: 'I have read all of the comments above and completely agree - we have been homing dogs from Spain to other countries for years and we are worried that the new rule change by DEFRA has made it much easier for unregistered organisations to just bring dogs in to the UK without knowledge of their history or breed.
We have rehomed Podencos, but mainly crosses (who are that much easier!) but the true hunting Podencos do take work! We work with them extensively in Spain and then only adopt them to families with the correct attitude and knowledge - they can make wonderful pets, but equally, we have many that we will never be able to rehome.
Our organisation assesses all dogs over a period of time, and we send them fully vaccinated, vaccinated against rabies, passported and microchipped, neutered/speyed and blood tested against the main med diseases - leishmaniosis, erlichia, babesia and filiaria. Though animals from England who go to the Med on holiday can also contract these diseases, we do not want Med dogs to get a bad reputation for bringing undiagnosed diseases into the country. Our dogs are also homechecked and come with an adoption contract stating that they must always be returned to us and not another charity if there is any problem that cannot be rectified (though we offer support to make sure that this doesn't happen).
I think the podenco crosses are that bit easier and they do not need perhaps the prison conditions that our lovely hunting poddies require!! We musn't forget also, that podencos don't only need secure fences etc, but also mental stimulation like other working dogs. As I said before, podenco crosses can bridge that divide and we have had a lot of success homing those with lovely homes.
Thank you, Naomi, for your comments too. and thanks to the following organisations for their contributions to this discussion.